Careers in Criminology: A Top Career for 2016-2026
What is Criminology?
Criminology (which is in the field of sociology, the science or study of society) is the scientific study of crime, criminals, criminal behavior, and corrections. It also examines prevention of crime and society's response to crime. Criminology includes the examination of evidence, hereditary and psychological causes of crime, various modes of investigation, conviction, and the efficacy of differing styles of punishment, rehabilitation, and corrections.
Radio and television have popularized the study of crime through shows such as The Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, The Naked City, The Defenders, Perry Mason, Mr. Lucky, The Wild Wild West, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, The District, CSI, CSI Miami, Numbers, and hundreds of others. Literature is filled with crime stories and magazines like True Crime. Crime is popular and crime-stoppers, from super heroes to policeman and amateur detectives, are revered.
Of course, there are many real-life careers available in criminology, as well, ones that are extremely challenging and rewarding.
A High-Yielding Job Creator
Criminology, a division of sociology, is the scientific study of crime, criminals, criminal behavior, and corrections. Thousands of jobs in various field are attached to this field of study, from private investigation to forensic accounting.
What Is a Criminologist?
A criminologist is a sociologist or social scientist who 1) specializes in criminology and 2) studies social behaviors. Each society has its own set of norms and deviations and these people examine the norms (most common behaviors) and the deviations from those norms of behavior.
A criminologist usually studies crime and law in college and earns at least one academic degree (an associate's, bachelor's, master's, and/or a doctorate (PhD) degree).
A criminologist provides theoretical explanations for the aberrant, delinquent, and criminal behaviors manifested in a population. They analyze criminal law, criminal behavior, and the methods used by criminals to practice deviant behavior and break the law. Criminologists work with a variety of levels and types of law enforcement agencies to develop behavior profiles for particular types of crimes. In addition, they gather statistics on crime rates. They investigate crimes and analyze the larger criminal justice system and its processes.
A criminologist is a sociologist or social scientist who 1) specializes in criminology and 2) studies social behaviors.
Criminology Jobs Increasing in 2015 - 2016
Qualifications of a Criminologist
A criminologist is a sociologist and must therefore be interested in human beings and their well-being. Human beings must not be, or become, merely objects to a criminologist. This is because the purpose of the field, as it is with all of sociology, is to make the quality of life better for all.
A criminologist must be able to express ideas and concepts clearly, both in writing and in person. They must be computer-literate and proficient on the internet, especially in applications related to criminology. A criminologist may need to address large groups of people and demonstrate good public speaking skills. They need to be focused, creative, analytical, logical, adept at problem solving, and dedicated to the profession of criminology and its goals of improving the criminal rehabilitation system and preventing crime. A criminologist must be interested in society as a whole and especially in victims of crime and in disadvantaged individuals and groups that may contain a larger proportion of victims or crime-related behavior than the general population.
A criminologist is a sociologist and must therefore be interested in human beings and their well-being. Human beings must not be, or become, merely objects to a criminologist.
Education Requirements for the Criminologist
As I said, different degrees are required for different jobs, but the courses needed at the undergraduate level in college for criminology include government, sociology, introductory psychology, sociological psychology, juvenile delinquency, criminal law, constitutional law, and criminal theory. Additional studies include forensics, abnormal psychology, corrections, and statistics for the social sciences and business.
Some students also take social work courses that deal with the criminal system and prisons. Criminologists also need classes in writing, computer science, and logic. Advanced degrees are required for individuals who will teach or conduct professional research. These advanced degrees are also required in order to climb the ladder professionally in the field of criminology.
Daily Tasks of a Criminologist
Entry-level criminologists conduct data collection, report proofing, and computer work, catalogue information about the possible causes of crime and the crimes committed, compile crime statistics, and propose improvements for the use of resources.
These professionals also analyze and develop crime prevention strategies, the causes of crime, and how the community relates to crime. Criminologists may be involved in crime scene investigations or attend autopsies seeking evidence and information to analyze the crime.
Career Paths in Criminology
- Criminal Investigation
- Diversion Programming
- Financial Fraud Investigation & Prevention
- Insurance Fraud Investigation & Prevention
- Intervention Programming
- Judicial / Courts
- Law Enforcement
- Medical Investigation
- Research and Policy Studies
- Private Investigation
- Psychologist - Psychopathology Specialist
- Retail Investigation
- Special Agencies
- Women's Studies
- Youth Programming & Counseling
- Additional Careers in Sociology
Employment Systems for Criminologists
- Court Systems
- Correctional Institutions
- Counseling Agencies
- Banks & Financial Institutions
- Insurance Companies
- Non-Profit Agencies
- Private Investigation Agencies
- Drug Enforcement Agency
- Federal Bureau of Investigations
- Homeland Security
- U.S. Border Patrol
- State Highway Patrol
- Dept. of Rehabilitation & Correction
- Youth Services
- Public Safety
Local Governments: County, City, Township, Village
- Local Police Divisions
- Public Safety
- Department of the Treasurer
Additional Employment Opportunities in Criminology
Universities and government agencies employ professional criminologists for advanced teaching and research and policy assessment. Most criminologists become police officers, FBI agents, or state medical examiners, but criminologists may also work in universities teaching criminology, legal studies, law, and sociology. Federal and state justice agencies employ criminologists as research officers and policy advisers.
Criminologists are found in many different settings: airport security, corrections systems, probation or parole offices, drug enforcement agencies, FBI, US customs, and other law enforcement agencies, not to mention corporations or financial institutions, and major department stores and law firms employing security officers, private investigators, and/or social workers. Some also work as consultants in the role of private investigators or security.
Video: Forensic Facial Reconstruction
Areas of Specialization in Criminology
Many areas of specialization exist in the field of criminology. Professionals may concentrate on a specific age group in their work, including elementary school youth, middle school youth, high school youth, young adults, middle-aged adults, and senior citizens.
It is unfortunate that crime has worked its way down into the elementary school ages, but there are drug dealers that use these children to sell drugs and some young children are taking loaded guns to school. Some elementary school-aged children are drinking alcohol and using controlled substances regularly and all of these things contribute to crime.
Criminologists often focus on specific types of crimes. Some work with murders, some with armed robbery, vandalism, rape, or serial crimes of different sorts. They may alternatively specialize in crime prevention, crime scene investigation, criminal litigation, corrections, rehabilitation, or the privatization of prisons.
Profilers are criminologists who build profiles of specific crimes by reviewing patterns of behavior. They look at particular groups of people that commit specific crimes and build a sort of meta-profile, a combination of the behaviors of those involved in these crimes. Profilers can pinpoint an average age range and other demographic and psychological characteristic for an "average criminal" involved in a particular crime.
Criminologists may place their efforts into research, victimology, victim's rights, white collar crime, the juvenile justice system, forensics technologies, DNA/RNA evidence, or many other areas. Other professionals work in community-based initiatives and among CBOs (community based organizations), government policy initiatives, and other types of programs and projects.
- American Society of Criminology (ASC)
The American Society of Criminology is an international organization involved in research and policy and, scientific and professional knowledge about the origins, prevention, and treatment of crime and delinquency, and promoting rehabilitation.
- Society for Research In Psychopathology
Psychopathology plays an important role in some crimes. This organization examines the current related issues in psychopathology and their impact on society, the individual, and criminal justice.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
This is a professional society dedicated to applying science to the law. Members are physicians, criminalists, toxicologists, attorneys, dentists, physical anthropologists, document examiners, engineers, educators, and others in forensics.
- International Association of Women Police
The International Association of Women Police was founded in order to ensure employment equity for women in the criminal justice field by promoting and celebrating the individual strengths, talents, and skills of each of its members.
- British Society of Criminology
This organization is the UK’s major criminological society. Its goal is to further academic and professional knowledge of all who are engaged in any aspect of criminal justice and criminology, teaching, research, or promoting knowledge.
- General Council of the Bar
This council participates in many areas that include the administration of justice and relations with government, the European Union, various legal professions in other countries, and other societal organizations with common interests.
Read More: Academic and Forensic Journal Resources
- Ten Guilty Men
"Ten Guilty Men" is a University of Pennsylvania Law Review article that examines the complications of the proverbial quote from the crime philosopher Blackstone, "Better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
- The Chicago School of Criminology (Sociology)
This Wikipedia page presents the history of the Chicago School of Sociology --beginning in the 1920s -- and its undertaking of Urban Sociology Criminology. It provides an extensive bibliography and some important links.
- Erle Stanley Gardner
This is an online version of the Erle Stanley Gardner Museum that is located in Ventura CA where Mr. Gardner pracitced law, wrote the "Perry Mason" series and began his work on The Court of Last Resort to free wrongly convicted people.
- Clews The Historic True Crime Blog
This exciting true crime blog examines current and past true crimes as well as high quality award winning crime-related literature. Offerings combine journalism, history, and criminology in an engaging manner for the public interest.
- Crime Magazine
This free online magazine is concerned with true crime. It reports on organized crime, celebrity crimes, serial killings, sex crimes, capital punishment, corruption, the prison system, assassinations, the justice system, crime books, crime films, etc
- Publications; Western Society of Criminology
Western Society of Criminology is a major criminological society. The Society's journal, The Western Criminology Review, is available on-site. It is a far ranging journal publishing material from the science of the social origins of crime, etc.
- The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Located in the UK, The Sherlock Homes Museum at 221 B Baker Street is a fascinating site of early criminological effort. This link provides an actual Baker Street webcam live, an online tour, and membership to a related society of sleuths.
CSI Named Most-Watched TV Show in the 2010s
The CBS television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation beat House, MD when it amassed over 73.8 million viewers globally. This was reported by the Monte-Carlo Television Festival in June 2010.
The total group of CSI shows dominated most years of the International TV Audience Awards for 5 years.CSI: Miami was the first show honored as the most-watched drama internationally (2006) CSI: Crime Scene Investigation won 2007, 2008, and 2010. House, MD, which also often portrays crime investigation and always uses CSI-like diagnosis methods, won in 2009.
All of these shows are drawing additional students to the fields of criminology, forensics, and forensic medicine; just as Star Trek® drew people into the US Space Program.
Earle Stanley Gardner and Dr. Simon Dinitz, two real heroes of criminology, would be pleased.
Video: Donald L. Nathanson, M.D. -- Prison and Change
Crime in Literature and Film
- The Court of Last Resort (TV dramatization)
The Court of Last Resort is a dramatized documentary about a group with the same name founded and maintained by Erle Stanley Gardner. The show (available on Netflix) tells the story of seven attorneys who, during the 1940s and '50s, took on cases of wrongly accused or unjustly convicted defendants to reveal the truth.
- Crime and Punishment (film)
This 1935 film retells Dostoyevsky's crime epic Crime and Punishment set in the 1930s, illustrating the mental torture of attempting to hide a crime. It stars Peter Lorre as Raskolnikov and Edward Arnold as Inspector Porfiry.
- Crime and Punishment (dual eBook)
This is a free online rendition of the great Dostoyevsky novel, printed side-by-side in English and Russian. The reader may view the novel in this version or access an English-only or Russian-only text.
My Introduction to Criminology: Simon Dinitz
I studied criminology under Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Criminology at Ohio State University, Simon Dinitz (1926-2007), who was an outstanding sociology professor and taught how to avoid a mugging by walking confidently, like you know where you're going and can't be stopped (not like a "tiny woman in a tight skirt and 6-inch spiked heels.") His lessons were substantial and fun: at times, he reminded me of a prison warden in a black-and-white 1940s B movie and his style made his teachings stick. Leaders in the field of criminology have cited Dinitz the strongest person in the field.
He whole-heartedly believed in rehabilitation and that convicted criminals could turn their lives around with the proper help. Beginning to teach at The Ohio State University in 1951 and continuing for the rest of his life, Dr. Dinitz accepted other responsibilities as well, including the position as head of an Ohio prison task force after the deadly 11-day-long riot at Ohio's Lucasville prison in 1993 and the leadership of another task force on overcrowding in Ohio prisons. He was named one of the Big Ten's "Ten Most Exciting Teachers" in 1968 and was honored at Ohio State University with the Distinguished Teaching Award, Distinguished Research Award, and Distinguished Service Award. He was the first faculty member to speak at commencement and national societies honored his research and teaching. Universities from California to Israel asked him to come as a visiting professor.
What brought you here?
Why are you interested in criminology?
Questions & Answers
- Helpful 1
What is the average annual income for a criminologist in America?
As of 2014, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the annual salary of a criminologist in this country was about $78,000 ($6,500 per month). As of 2017, several recruiting agencies reported that figure to be over $83,000 annually. Starting salaries usually begin around $30,000 to $50,000 yearly.
© 2007 Patty Inglish